Programming, Tools, Web Apps

Developing cross-platform Adobe AIR desktop applications

This weekend I decided to spend some time developing my first cross-platform Adobe AIR desktop application. My first impression of Adobe Air was: Wow! It takes only a few minutes to see how easy and powerful this platform is. What’s great about AIR is that you can build Rich Internet Applications that run across operating systems (Win/OSX/Ubuntu) on the WebKit HTML engine and are easily delivered using a single installer file. You can also build desktop applications in JavaScript, a language that nearly everyone is familiar with.

What’s really cool about Adobe AIR is that the extension for Dreamweaver lets you transform a web-based application into a desktop application. Users can then run the application on their desktops and, in some cases, without an Internet connection. I already have a couple of these applications running on my Ubuntu desktop.

Also, Adobe AIR has an embedded database SQLite, which is an SQL92 & ACID compliant database engine with support for storing databases of up to 1TB. You can use this embedded database in your AIR Apps, and send SQL queries to it using JavaScript!

For a quick, hands-on illustration of how Adobe AIR works, read the following tutorials:

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4 thoughts on “Developing cross-platform Adobe AIR desktop applications

  1. AIR has been around for a while, but you should know that when you distribute your AIR apps, your code goes with it. A lot of people seem to be missing this point. They are spending hours and hours developing these smart applications for the AIR platform (some commercial) only to realize anyone can modify and see what they’ve done. Install an AIR app then check the folder where it installed, you should find every line of code.

  2. True, it’s been around for a while, but it’s not that popular yet.

    > …anyone can modify and see what they’ve done.

    Only if you use AIR/HTML/JavaScript. But, just like any other Web application, you can build it using AIR/Flash/ActionScript.

  3. Federico, even if you use Air/Flash/Actionscript, still anyone can read, modify and steal your code. There are dozens of tools on the net for this. Had to learn this the hard way.

    The only way to prevent people to steal your code is using obfuscator tools like irrfuscator (obfuscates actionscript3 / AIR applications) in this example.

  4. This goes for every modern programming language. Java and C# are also quite easy to de-compile. This means it isn’t a real disadvantage of Air if you compare it with competing technologies. You should always obfuscate your work to protect your intelectual property.

    De-compiling and compiling always go hand in hand.

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